G-Drive Racing operated by Algarve Pro Racing’s John Falb, Rui Andrade and Gustavo Menezes raced to seventh overall and second in LMP2 Pro-Am in the 2021 European Le Mans Series (ELMS) 4 Hours of Spa-Francorchamps (18-19 September).
The #25 crew and the #37 Cool Racing squad are on two class wins apiece, but second place at Spa means G-Drive Racing by APR has a 24-point lead in the Pro-Am classification, with 25 points still available in the season finale on Algarve Pro’s home soil in Portimao (23-24 October).
Elsewhere, the carbon-negative #24 car crashed out of the race in a two-part collision involving both LMP3 and GTE runners, and retirement for the #26 G-Drive Racing by APR crew following lap-one contact at La Source meant the overall ELMS title went the way of Team WRT with one round to spare.
John Falb (#25 G-Drive Racing by APR Aurus 01 LMP2): “It’s a bit frustrating knowing we could have wrapped up the Pro-Am championship this weekend at Spa, but we can be happy that we’re in the box seat going to Portugal.
“It was a really chaotic start to the race, and I basically had to park the car on the outside of La Source as others span around me. My lap times were good when we got going, but we had to do an emergency pit stop under the Safety Car to tighten a loose wheelnut, which earned us a penalty. From there, I drove through the field and handed the car to Rui (Andrade) well inside the top ten, and we eventually managed to counter the time-loss and get back onto the lead lap through the next cycle of stops.”
Falb continued: “Gustavo (Menezes) absolutely flew and had the fastest average lap times, but a tyre delaminated later in his stint and then it was purely about survival. He somehow kept United Autosports’ Tom Gamble behind him to finish seventh, but we’re already focused on reaching the overall podium in Portimao. I think we will be really strong there, as it’s one of my favourite tracks.”
Rui Andrade (#25 G-Drive Racing by APR Aurus 01 LMP2): “Today, the best we could do was finish second in Pro-Am and seventh overall. We had the car to win and led the class at one point, but we were handed a penalty for stopping during a Safety Car that cost us time and positions. Still, we hold on to the championship lead and we only need a single point in the European Le Mans Series finale in Portimao to win the championship. I’m already looking forward to it. Let’s get it!”
Gustavo Menezes (#25 G-Drive Racing by APR Aurus 01 LMP2): “It’s a shame we didn’t come away with a better overall finish, but the priority was always to open the gap in the LMP2 Pro-Am championship, so we can all be really happy with what we’ve achieved at Spa.
“This was my first competitive LMP2 outing since my last season with Algarve Pro in 2018 and it was really positive. The car and tyres have changed since then, and while I started to get to grips with it and match Nyck (de Vries) for pace in qualifying, we struggled to extract the ultimate pace from the Goodyears. John (Falb) did a good job to stay safe at the start, but a few mistakes and bad luck later in the race cost us a chunk of time, taking us out of podium contention.”
Menezes added: “My first stint started with me just turning laps to close the gap to Nicolas Lapierre in the Cool Racing Pro-Am car. My pace was initially good in my second stint, but a delaminated front tyre forced me to drive slowly, with United Autosports bearing down on me and with a very challenging fuel-saving target. I did my best and brought the car home in seventh. I’m pleased we have a comfortable margin going to Portugal, where we’ll try to finish the season on the overall podium.”